02 April 2010

running from medusa to a perpetual motion machine

My new project is a perpetual motion machine. Not exactly that, but close enough for all practical purposes. If I achieve even ten percent of my intention, I can afford to rent a private jet to fly a smoking hot babe across the country to see a total eclipse of the sun in 2017 and not even blink when I sign the bill. That is the most extravagant thing I would ever care to do--hence to me I am inventing a perpetual motion machine for all my practical purposes. My first full day at work was OK. Before I get to that (including a couple of wondrous tidbits if you hang in there dear Reader) I am going to back up and cover medusa.

I found out I was getting laid off pretty much for sure the second week December and Wednesday was my last day. This means for first three months 2010 my office has reeked of the carrion of my dead corporate career. The hazard in that is most succinctly described in Bronislaw Malinowski: Magic, Science and Religion. His Trobrianders describe a creature, which he calls mulukuausi, and is elsewhere described as the Melanesian Medusa. She hunts humans and is aroused by the aroma of carrion. Whenever Malinowski was walking through the forest on Trobriand Island and the natives smelled carrion, they immediately performed complex rituals for protection from the mulukuausi. The mulukuausi is described as female which is its main physical similarity to the medusa. Snakes for hair is not mentioned anywhere that I know of.

I have been daily performing protection rituals to diffuse the carrion taint, which is why I claim I am fleeing medusa. Yesterday I did a tarot spread. It was informative. I drew all fire and water cards--it was a good spread for ritual cleansing. The key message I took was from the seven cups in position seven. My interpretation of this card is beware worshiping false gods. Very similar to the first of the commandments in Exodus: Thou shalt have no other god before me. I don't have to worry about elevating tarot. And I certainly do not have to worry about elevating my upwardly mobile corporate career. Not any more. I suppose my main concern in this regard is excessive elevation of my magnificent intellect.

God I swear I crack myself up. Maybe the card was referring to my inappropriate expressions of humor.

My big smarty ego may be quickly cured by step One in my new project which is working through the Feynman Lectures on Physics one by one at least to Volume III Lecture 21. That is the last lecture that I have on tape. I do not have them all on tape. There are around 150 and I have 60. Yesterday I read five lectures and listened to two. I have tried this sub-project a couple times before and not gotten far, but both of those times I was doing it the other way around. Attempts one and two were centered around working through the 60 recordings, anchored back on to the 60 corresponding printed lectures. Printed lecture four is recorded lecture 25 and I never got that far before.

He has, by odd coincidence, a discussion of perpetual motion machines in this lecture. He has a machine which may be more complex than necessary to demonstrate his point, and I thought the argument a bit Baroque, like one of those goofy picture frames that has angels blowing trumpets carved into the top corners. He says his argument (following from Carnot) is ingenious, but just because an argument is ingenious does not mean it is correct. If it does not agree with the experiments, the argument is wrong. This argument does happen to agree with the experiments, and it demonstrates that perpetual motion machine impossibility and energy conservation are two ways of saying the same thing. At the end of the lecture he points out how little watery Hydrogen is necessary for nuclear fusion energy amounting to all the coal, oil and gas, &c. we are currently burning and he challenges physicists to liberate humanity from energy limits.

My project is partly an unsolved physics problem so I appreciate the sentiment, but it does not yet involve nuclear fusion energy production.

The most interesting thing about the recordings is the man's audio presentation. He had a strong working class New York accent which he had not done much to modify at the point when the lectures were recorded in 1961. He sounded like a Looney Tunes character: Bugs or Foghorn Leghorn or Sylvester Cat or perhaps some hybrid of the three. There is no doubt in my mind that Mel Blanc could have done a splendid Richard Feynman rap. If I can continue at five lectures a day I can have a good time with this for the next thirty days. Maybe I will mix in some Looney Tunes videos to break it up.

That's all folks!

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.